The Gelugor House
I want to tell you about a house. It is a house I absolutely adore, which I go to everytime I am in Penang. There is no other place in the world that you can find it, except in Penang. It’s my great-grandmother’s house in the sleepy suburb of Gelugor. Now, grandaunt lives in the two-storey brick bungalow with her older brother.
There’s nothing I love more than big old houses in hot countries – the sleepiness, the quiet hot afternoons, the feel of bare feet on mosaic tiles. The ceiling fan whirrs slowly, providing a refuge from the scorching heat outside. There’s the table with biscuits, the smell of kopi-o, the 1970’s suburban utopia.
The house in Gelugor is a picturesque 1970’s suburban utopia
The thief who was locked in
The house is idyllic and untouched, almost vintage. But so are its inhabitants. One of them is so vintage that when the thief comes in the daytime, she has a full-blown conversation with him, thinking he is the workman.
Thief is rummaging the drawers upstairs while hard-of-hearing Grandaunt is pottering about in the kitchen. She glimpses the shadow of a man and thinks it’s her grandson coming round for tea.
He’s early, she thought. “Yasu!” she called. “Is that you?”
Her suspicions arise because Yasu always answers. She locks the front door behind her, goes round the back door and locks that as well. She locks herself out.
But Thief realises he’s trapped and pleads with Grandaunt. “I’m the workman,” he says. “If you just let me out to grab my toolbox over there…”
“Lu lai wa eh chu bo keo wa?” (You come into my house and you don’t greet me?) she asks.
Thief says he did but she never heard her.
“Lu bo kasi ah.” (You’re a rude boy) Grandaunt reprimands him.
Thief comes up with more excuses, but Grandaunt is having none of it.
“Lu mohsin ah!” (You’re nuts!) she scolds him. “Wa bo keo lu lai wa eh chu.” (I never invited you into my house)
And off she goes to her sister’s across the road to ring the police. When they arrive, Thief is gone. He pried his way out of the front door, damaging her lock.
Even in paradise, there is sin.